Chinese stocks have been on a tear. Morgan Stanley says it’s turning even more bullish on China.

© Uncredited


Load Error

No matter how miserable 2022 was for investors of all sorts, they could have undone all manners of sin with one simple move — going long Chinese stocks in late October.

The KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF has exactly doubled (okay, rose 99.88%) from its Oct. 24 intraday low. Of course, no one in their right mind would’ve made that investment allocation, so here in the real world, the question really is how far the rally can go.

Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, says China’s unexpectedly rapid dismantling of COVID restrictions is paving the way for a faster-than-anticipated economic reopening. UBS has upgraded Chinese equities to “most preferred” in Asia, at the expense of South Korea, and says select companies in the consumer, internet, pharmaceutical, medical equipment, transportation, capital goods and materials sectors are likely to see more front-loaded returns.

Onto the call of the day from Morgan Stanley, which in the same vein says it’s turned “even more bullish” on China. A team led by Laura Wang kept an overweight rating and raised their year-end target on the MSCI China index from 70 to 80. (The iShares MSCI China ETF ended Monday at $52.43.) It also lifted its China GDP growth estimate by three tenths, to 5.7%, which is ahead of the consensus 4.8%.

The market, the Morgan Stanley team say, is still underappreciating the far-reaching ramifications of reopening, and the possibility that a decent cyclical recovery can occur.

While there’s a visible rebound in mobility and offline entertainment, underappreciated improvements include more effective business communications and supply chain coordination, reduced uncertainty in investment and smoother implementation of public capital spending plans.

The Morgan Stanley team also expect countercyclical easing to remain in place in the first half, and even the beleaguered housing sector to see sales turn positive in the early second quarter.

Buy large-cap, highly liquid Chinese internet companies with a preference for Alibaba the Morgan Stanley team say. “Despite the recent rally, we believe global investors have yet to build enough exposure to Chinese equities, particularly for the global long-only funds,” they said.

They also advised continuing to buy reopening beneficiaries, which the analysts say they’ve been recommending since the middle of November. Most of these reopening names are Hong Kong-listed, though Yum China and Melco Resorts & Entertainment also make the list.

One other notable point — even with the recent rally, it would take a further 80% outperformance for the Chinese market relative to the S&P 500 to get back to the relative performance of early 2021. While that’s not the base case, similar surges in China performance have been front-end loaded in the past, particularly with accommodative monetary and fiscal policy and declining political risks.

“In the latter regard, we would note internally on this occasion of the Party Congress, measures to support the property sector and a more relaxed approach to private sector regulation,” they say. “Externally we would highlight the appointment of China’s former ambassador to the U.S. as foreign minister and a more conciliatory tone in general from the China side in relation to trade and non-trade disputes with foreign powers.”

The market

U.S. stock futures were weaker after the disappointing finish to Monday’s trade. The yield on the 10-year Treasury was 3.55%.

For more market updates plus actionable trade ideas for stocks, options and crypto, subscribe to MarketDiem by Investor’s Business Daily.

The buzz

The focus is on Stockholm, where Chair Jerome Powell will give a speech about central bank independence at 9 a.m. Eastern.

Euronav slumped 13% while Frontline rose 23% after the oil tanker merger deal fell apart.

Virgin Orbit was down 24% in premarket trade after a rocket it launched from the U.K. failed to reach orbit.

Oak Street Health is surging on a Bloomberg News report that CVS Health may buy it.

Microsoft is considering making a $10 billion investment in OpenAI, Bloomberg News reported. said it’s going to shut three warehouses in the U.K.

Best of the web

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are under preliminary investigation at the Federal Trade Commission over price discrimination in the soft drinks market, Politico reported.

Here’s what in the rules package approved in the House of Representatives, that will make it harder to raise taxes or spend money, and provides the power to fire specific federal officials.

A U.S. Attorney is investigating classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, from when Joe Biden was vice president.

Top tickers

Here were the most active stock market tickers as of 6 a.m. Eastern.

Ticker Security name
Bed Bath & Beyond
Mullen Automotive
AMC Entertainment
AMTD Digital

The chart

The good news — it no longer looks like Europe will enter a recession, according to Goldman Sachs economists. That’s because the industrial sector has been surprisingly resilient and because natural-gas prices have fallen sharply, they say.

Random reads

Returning Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger wants employees back at the office four days a week.

A nonprofit is working to restore the shortgrass prairie to help bison thrive.

David Beckham’s son, Romeo, is joining the U.K. soccer club Brentford.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Listen to the Best New Ideas in Money podcast with MarketWatch reporter Charles Passy and economist Stephanie Kelton.

Continue Reading